Thursday, February 10, 2011
Chronic Tribute: Steve Gerber! (9/20/47 - 2/10/08)
Steve Gerber was a unique creative force. He was imagination with impeccable steering and really bad brakes. His stuff was weird, and not for everybody. Steve Gerber was not for squares, back when there were such things as squares.
Steve Gerber did not melt your mind as an attack. It was simply the natural byproduct of his mental mutancy - he was a fully functioning, rational adult who never developed an anti-fun filter. Children don't filter anything, their imaginations run free and unchecked. We beat it out of them fairly quickly with fascist group thinking and a focus purely on "results". The idea is never the thing as we pass from childhood to adolescence to bitterness. What can you do with it?
I think Steve Gerber was a one-in-a-million treasure who never let that damned filter kill his flow. (We got our lottery winner in this generation in the form of Grant Morrison) He let the ideas flow and then asked a better question than everybody around him:
Tom Mason and co. handed Gerber a team full of cliches, and he created one of the great button-hooks in the history of comics. It was going to be the usual comics fare - a super scientist discovers a fatal "Theta Virus" that also generates super powers, and Dr. Deming forms a team of jag-offs and miscreants to serve the greater good.
In comics, hell, in storytelling, the rule is you slap these ill-fitting pieces together, and it isn't always pretty, but by gum that team is going to learn from their mistakes and each other and prevail in the end.
In life outside of stories, things fall apart. The center cannot hold. This is NOT the way you write comic books. The idea of an ongoing series is to keep going on. Gerber flushed the whole works in four issues, and the payoff was extraordinary.
There were some ruffled feathers over the fact that Malibu solicited an issue # 5 that it knew would never be published. (retailers were reimbursed, of course, but it felt like dirty pool) The only way the story works, of course, is if you hold the stodgy old pattern in your head (it's an ongoing series, nothing really bad can happen) only to have your mind blown when the entire team is laying in pieces due to gross incompetence.
We miss you, Steve Gerber!